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Emerging Loyalty Trends in Automotive to Watch Closely: Detroit Event Highlights

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Last year, Perficient hosted an automotive event in Detroit that was so successful we had to return. Last week, I returned to the Shinola Hotel to meet with a new group of industry leaders – this time, we discussed brand loyalty and emerging trends and technology.  

Everyone Should Take the Wheel of Loyalty 

Loyalty is being transformed by a changing automotive customer demographic – millennials now represent the largest group of automotive shoppers, and they naturally have different preferences and needs. As consumer preferences change, so does our strategy for achieving and growing loyalty. It used to be that the responsibility of loyalty was housed in one department, where marketing was the custodian. However, loyalty is so much more. It’s not only about getting to the next sale, but rather achieving lifetime value. As a result, loyalty is managed across departments like technology, finance, and sales, all tightly aligned with marketing. 

Img 5933Improving CX Will Win Back Customers 

The steep decline in loyalty to one brand presents a serious challenge for automotive OEMs that want to maintain their customer base. With increasing competition and changing market demands, brands must rethink their CX strategies. Thanks to behavioral science research, we are continuing to better understand what motivates customers to remain committed to a brand. Brand loyalty is built over time with consistent and positive experiences, so any tangible improvements in these areas will have a lasting impact on a brand’s bottom line. 

Emerging Trends to Watch 

One of the biggest emerging trends for loyalty is that it is expanding beyond a rewards and points system. Customers desire a strong affiliation with the brands they love, which means that loyalty can no longer be one-sided. The most successful brands will prove their loyalty to their customers, not just demand that customers are loyal to the brand.  

In attendance at our event was an executive of customer care at one of the largest OEMs, and she stated that every customer interaction they receive is answered. She also explained that negative reviews are actually a great opportunity to demonstrate loyalty to the customer. These strategies are only a few of the many ways a company to broaden and strengthen their loyalty efforts, and they’ll help brands set themselves apart from the crowd. 

The Data That Drives Loyalty 

The average American participates in almost 15 different loyalty programs according to Consumer Reports. The way to become the favorite is to provide lifetime customer value: Pre-purchase to post-purchase experiences must excite and delight to obtain high retention.  

Of course, technology is a big part of initiating any loyalty program today. With the customer journey becoming increasingly complex with multiple touchpoints, no longer following a linear path, companies must be able to pull in data from all angles and analyze it effectively to drive decisions. Currently, most brands aren’t pulling enough data. Others might have an abundance of data, yet they lack the strategy to utilize it correctly 

Customer data collected from loyalty programs is only powerful with the right technology. For example, machine learning is critical to processing the mass amounts of data, and effectively inform how a brand can better provide lifetime value, uncover audience insights, and track churn. Automotive brands should dive deep into how they can get the most out of their loyalty platforms like Salesforce, AWS, and more. 

Continue to Explore the Changing Face of Loyalty  

The combination of changing consumer preferences and emerging technology makes brand loyalty a constantly moving goal post. Automotive brands must get ahead with a deep understanding of their audience, a pulse on the latest trends, and a firm grasp of the technology that is helping them achieve their goals.  

This automotive event’s conversation was certainly excellent, but it also is certainly not the last. I thank my teammates, technology partners, and wonderful clients for spending time with us to bring light to the challenges and solutions in the loyalty space. 

We now continue our trip across the country to meet up with automotive leaders everywhere to discuss loyalty and emerging technology. Please reach out if you’re interested in attending an event like this one – and learn more about Perficient’s automotive expertise in the meantime. 

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Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

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